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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Teens Exhibit Heightened Response to Cigarette Use

teens exhibit heightened response to cigarette useRecent magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) of teen brains indicate that they may be more likely to develop cigarette addiction. During imaging, researchers found elevated levels of dopamine in the brain as teens watched videos of adolescents smoking cigarettes. Dopamine is a brain chemical that modulates pleasure and emotion, and according to study co-author Adriana Galvan of the University of California Los Angeles, “The dopamine system undergoes significant maturation during the teenage years, rendering the teen brain more reactive to rewards and perhaps more vulnerable to addictive substances.”

During this small study, Galvan and co-author Kathy Do (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) analyzed 39 teen and 39 adult MRIs while participants viewed video clips of actors who were smoking. After completing the MRIs, researchers asked participants whether they wanted to smoke while watching the videos. Teen smokers seemed to have a stronger connection between dopamine production, reward activation, and their reported desire to light up.

The study was limited by the fact that participants were not asked to abstain from smoking for a period before viewing the videos, which may have independently influenced their craving levels. This limitation was reported in the Journal findings. Adam Leventhal, director of the Health, Emotion and Addiction Laboratory at the University of Southern California, commented on the study and reported that findings may have been impacted by the fact that older adults found it difficult to personally identify with video clips of younger smokers.

“For the adults in the study, the video of young people smoking might not have been realistic enough to produce the natural response that they might have had if encountering smoking in the real world,” said Leventhal in an email. He also added that the study might have shown heightened cravings in teens because the part of the brain that reacts to pleasure cues develops faster than the part of the brain regulating impulse control.

If teen brains are actually more sensitive to nicotine than adults, it may make sense to set the legal cigarette purchase age to 21 to reduce the risk of more vulnerable adolescents falling prey to cravings, said Dr. Nancy Rigotti, Harvard University researcher and director of the Tobacco Research and Treatment Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The study does not claim to prove that teens are more likely to become addicted to cigarettes, but according to an email from Rigotti, it provides “very nice supporting data.” (Rigotti was not involved in the study.)

SOURCES: Journal of Adolescent Health, online December 8, 2015;

Monday, December 28, 2015

U.S. Department of Transportation Launches New Drunk Driving Ad Campaign

USDOT Drunk Driving CommercialsWith New Year’s Eve looming and travelers continuing to hit the road to visit family and friends for the remainder of the holiday season, U.S. DOT has kicked off a new ad campaign to discourage drunk driving. The campaign, called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, has begun running on TV, digital outlets, and prior to movie showings of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“We hope the millions of Americans who will be on the road over the holidays will make the safe choice not to drink and drive,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary. As is typical this time of year, law enforcement officers across the country are out in force: policing the roads to protect innocent drivers from the perils of alcohol-impaired decisions.

The Christmas and New Year holidays remain one of the most dangerous times on the road, with the 36/day drunk driving fatalities increasing to 45 or more per day during the holiday season. According to AAA estimates, almost 28,000 Americans will be severely injured and 250 will die during accidents occurring during this time period.

Before you get into a car during the holidays, be sure that the driver is sober and in control. If you question their ability to drive safely, remember:

• Don’t fall for the “cup of coffee” myth. You cannot sober someone up by giving them a few cups of coffee. Though caffeine is a stimulant, research shows that it takes roughly one hour per drink to detox from excessive alcohol consumption.
• Take action and take their keys. Call them a cab and pay for it yourself, or have another responsible designated driver take them home.
• Request that they spend the night at your home or a loved one’s home. Have them return for their car the next day—after sobering up.

“In the time it takes to watch a two-hour movie, two or more lives will be lost in drunk-driving related crashes,” said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator, Mark Rosekind. “Drunk driving doesn’t just happen. It’s a decision people make.”

The new U.S. DOT ads, “Man in the Mirror” and “Woman in the Mirror,” portray a young man and woman looking in the mirror after a night of drinking. Their reflections argue with them, attempting to convince them that they are capable of driving. Both ads are designed to show viewers that people cannot trust themselves—or their judgment—when they have been drinking.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Benefits of Alternative Medicine in Addiction Recovery

benefits of alternative medicine in addiction recoveryWhile there is no doubt that Western medicine and traditional addiction rehab programs have their place in addiction recovery, there have been many alternative medicine developments over the past decade that have shown great promise for men and women recovering from addiction. Today, rehab clients find solace in yoga classes, acupuncture, meditation, massage therapy, and other complementary medicine techniques, which help to lower stress, minimize withdrawal symptoms, and reduce cravings.

Holistic Therapy Augments Conventional Therapy 
According to the April 2014 journal, Substance Use & Misuse, mindfulness-based relapse prevention was found to be more effective than traditional relapse prevention methods in decreasing drug and alcohol use up to one year later. “There have been several randomized clinical trials, as well as smaller controlled studies, that have found meditation to be as effective or more effective than existing treatments for addiction,” said addiction researcher and UNM associate professor of psychology, Katie Witkiewitz.

Few addiction therapists believe that alternative medicine treatments should be used on their own to treat drug and alcohol use. Instead, Complete Harmony uses holistic therapies in conjunction with behavior modification, life-skills courses, intensive counseling, family therapy, and other programming features to deliver best possible rehab success.

Alternative Treatment Options 
At Complete Harmony, we offer a full range of holistic and traditional addiction treatments that are customized to your medical needs, recovery objectives, and personal values. Options include, but are not limited to:

Cognitive behavioral therapy
Dialectical behavioral therapy
Yoga & mind-body exercise
Massage & bodywork
Acupuncture & chiropractic care
Hybrid treatment
SMART® Recovery

Get Out of Your Box with Alternative Addiction Treatment 
The most fulfilling form of sobriety is achieved when you stretch yourself and engage in new experiences. If you have never tried Eastern medicine approaches or holistic therapies for addiction or co-occurring disorders, our credentialed addiction recovery specialists can recommend the most effective therapies for you. Explore our program online, or call 866-930-4673 to speak with a Complete Harmony recovery advisor and begin the enrollment process today.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Count Down the New Year with Recovery in Mind

new years resolutions addiction recoveryOnce again, it’s time to sing “Auld Lang Syne” and bid farewell to the past year. Whether you have been in recovery for many years, or for just a few months, this is a time for reflection and celebration: reflection on your recovery accomplishments during 2015, and celebration of the opportunities that await you in a sober 2016.

And the Countdown Begins!

5. Be thankful.
Make a list of sobriety’s blessings: “I’m getting treatment for my mental health disorder.” “My children are starting to trust me again.” Gratitude will help you keep wonder and appreciation in your life.

4. Take stock of your recovery resources and tune up your toolkit.
Have you encountered situations in sobriety that you didn’t feel comfortable handling? Consult a rehab expert or join a therapy group. Anticipating problems and knowing how to get help will help keep you on track.

3. Give yourself credit for a job well done.
People are always quick to criticize themselves for their failings, but they rarely take notice of what they do right. As 2015 ends, make a list of small recovery victories you have had. “I’ve gone 6 days without a drink.” “I spoke for the first time at group therapy.” Acknowledgement of these positive actions reinforces your belief that you can lead a successful sober life.

2. Share your story.
Do you remember the help and inspiration you received as you began your recovery? Were there books that held special meaning for you? Did a sponsor help you when you were struggling? Find an opportunity to support or inspire someone else who is trying to escape addiction.

1. Plan new challenges to meet in 2016.
In addiction, you desire only the substance that steals your health and joy of living. In sobriety, a world of possibilities opens up for you. New experiences, better health, a wider circle of friends await you. Set some goals and then take small and steady steps to achieve them. Perhaps you’d like to train for advancement at work. Or maybe you’d like to run a marathon, or learn to dance.

Enjoy your recovery! Happy 2016! 

Start Your Sober Life with Complete Harmony
Deciding to seek a sober life and entering rehab is a big step, but it must be followed by many small steps if recovery is to last. At Complete Harmony, we can help you progress along your journey, from comfortable detox through hybrid treatment to lifelong holistic practices like meditation and yoga. If you are starting the New Year with a resolution to begin life without addiction, call 866-930-4673 to speak with a Complete Harmony recovery advisor and begin the enrollment process today.

Monday, December 7, 2015

3 Ways to Stay Sober During Holiday Parties

3 ways to stay sober during holiday partiesFor many people, the holiday season is filled with high expectations, social commitments, and stressful shopping lists. For men and women working their way through addiction recovery, managing holiday stress is critical to sobriety success. When it comes to holiday party invitations, keep in mind the following tips as you prioritize your recovery over a fleeting temptation to drink or use:

1. Choose events wisely. Turn down invitations to parties where you will face multiple triggers (people, places, substances) that may be difficult to fend off. You are not obligated to attend every event you are invited to, so don’t feel pressured to say, “yes” if you are uncomfortable. If you decide to attend an event, take an accountability partner with you: someone who supports your sobriety and is willing to have a tough conversation if necessary. Also, develop an exit plan in case the temptation becomes too much to bear. After all you’ve worked for, it’s far better to cut the party short than risk a relapse.

2. Rehearse a script for saying “no.” Chances are at some point you will be offered a drink, a smoke, or something stronger at a holiday party. Before the conversation arises, develop a script that you can handily recall. Sometimes all you need to do is politely decline the substance. If the host persists, request a club soda instead—or let them know that you don’t drink for health reasons. If inquiries continue and the party turns into a high-pressure situation, it’s time to make an exit.

3. Attend bookend meetings. Whether you are part of a non-12-step or traditional 12-step group, it’s wise to plan a meeting or sponsor contact before and after the party. The first meeting prepares you to be strong, and gives you the opportunity to tell others where you are going. Attend the second meeting or check in with group members after your party so they can hold you accountable to your post-party sobriety promise.

Reclaim Your Holiday Peace
The holiday season is one of the most challenging times to pursue addiction rehab, but it’s an important time to remember that you are empowered—to say, “no,” to be thankful for your recovery, and to surround yourself with sober supporters who want the best for you.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed during the holidays, reach out to an addiction specialist, counselor, or support group. With the help of wise decisions and accountability partners, you will emerge from the holiday season proud of yourself—and hopeful about reclaiming a life of health and self-control.
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